I came across a sentence structure similar to the below, and I am wondering if the sentence should end with a question mark or a period.

How did you do that, she wondered?

First of all, I would have written "She wondered, how did you do that?" instead. (The "How did you do that" part was NOT a direct quotation, it was the rewording of the author.)

However, if I have to choose one, I would put a period just because if it ends with a question mark I would automatically read the ending with a raised intonation.

Putting a question mark after "that," sounds right, but seems wrong because a question mark is considered as an ending mark.

What would be an appropriate punctuation here?

  • 1
    It's arguable that the author intends you to read it with rising intonation at the end. And changing the order the way you propose completely changes the tone of the sentence. For the author's intent and (assumed) "voice" I think it's fine the way it is.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 3, 2016 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


When you use verbs of saying or thinking, you're going to be hard pressed not to leave the impression that you're reporting a direct quote, which as the comment above and most manuals of style note looks like

"How did you do that?" she wondered.

If you want to make sure you're not quoting, use indirect reporting

She wondered how you did that.

I prefer the Chicago Manual of Style which recommends that interrogative elements within a sentence end with a question mark, so might write

How did you do that? was the question in her mind.

  • I wouldn't advocate trying to write The Great American Novel while adhering to the Chicago Manual Of Style. Your proposals sound much more stilted than the original.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 3, 2016 at 0:41
  • It's understood that it's not a direct quote, since you don't normally say anything when you wonder. Feb 3, 2016 at 1:57
  • Oh, I don't know. When we wonder aloud, isn't that just a question? :-)
    – Rob_Ster
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:08
  • @HotLicks 1) The CMS isn't for writing the Great American Novel. 2) The original misleads the reader since the entire statement isn't a question. 3) Stilted? Thanks for sharing.
    – deadrat
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:22
  • The original would be perfectly normal for an "omniscient 3rd person point of view".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:26

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